Power in Winter

I cannot but enjoy this autumn in London. the temperatures are hot and there is none of the equinoctial wind which blows London dust into my eyes this time of year.  I expect it will end soon, and this warm October will give way to a cold November, which will start to freeze the tips of my fingers and pour cold dust into my lungs, to join the accumulation of much other dust.  Continue reading

Hinckley Point Subsidies

£24.5 billion is a great deal of money. It would equip every home in the United Kingdom with solar water heating systems. However, things being as they are the UK government has decided that a better use for the money (some of which will be provided by EDF, is to build a new nuclear power station at Hinckley Point in Somerset. The £24.5 billion is merely the construction cost. Another £7 billion is required for working capital. Continue reading

Money has no conscience and owes no loyalty

I think that the economic recession is ending now but people fear the changes that a return to relative prosperity will bring. For some, a modest increase in interest rates will mean bankruptcy while for others it will mean that they can afford a bit more and lose a bit less of their savings each year. Continue reading

Too Much Power

Any electrical power failure in a developed or developing society has serious consequences. So many people need electricity in order to work, whether it be in a factory where the power and machines work in tandem with people to produce goods, or whether it be in an office where banks of workers are working behind computer monitors with telephones  headsets strapped on. When the power fails work stops and often life saving procedures stop. Our dependence on electricity is astonishing. Continue reading

Energy Addicts

When Edmund Burke wrote “those who have been once intoxicated with power and have derived any kind of emolument from it can never willingly abandon it” he was writing about political power. You can see that it is apt; there are many dictators who have achieved power and derived great wealth from the power that they have achieved, and even though most of that wealth might be locked in the vaults of Swiss banks the dictator knows that to surrender power is to surrender the wealth accrued from power.   Continue reading

Parliament makes another statement on Microgeneration!

Parliament sits in the Palace of Westminster, which is a series of neo gothic buildings with courtyards and of course the famous clock known as Big Ben, that is at the top of a clock tower. This group of buildings are also known as the Houses of Parliament and comprises many meeting rooms offices and chambers where the elected 646 members of the House of Commons and unelected 731 members of the House of Lords carry out their work of writing the laws of our democracy.

I have been urging Parliament for years to show some environmental leadership by example, and a good place to start would be with the Palace of Westminster itself. Today a plan has been announced to shrink Parliament’s carbon footprint by using microgeneration at a cost of £20 million, which is only £5 million more than the government allotted for microgeneration for the whole of England and Wales for two years.

The centrepiece of these microgeneration plans is a 35 metre high wind turbine. Politicians like wind turbines because they are obvious; the 1.65mW turbine would be visible on nearby Victoria Gardens sticking out like a sore thumb but it would, we are told,“make a bold statement to the nation on government commitment to renewable energy”. Oh dear, here we go again. We are told that this is a bold statement. The environment of our legislature is full of bold statements; we need some real life measures offering reasonable value for money instead.

This present bold wind turbine statement will be located, if plans go ahead, in a place where wind speeds are usually right at the edge of what makes a turbine work and the turbine will only reduce the electric bill and carbon footprint modestly. I wonder what bold statement will be made when the blades are not turning. I think that the turbine plan will be a foolish waste of money. Let us put the money into a turbine where it will generate more electricity, rather than where it will make another untrue boast for the government.

There are also plans for rainwater harvesting and for boiler upgrades. These are cheap and easy to do, but I guess they don’t make bold statements. There are also plans to sink some underwater turbines alongside parliament to take advantage of a six metre tidal difference. This might work, provided the tides are not too strong; if they are too strong the blades might shear off on the turbines.

This plan for the pseudo greening of Westminster largely ignores heat. Electricity usage has increased by 86% in the last ten years according to Norman Baker MP (and he knows his stuff on this) and I imagine that the authors of the plan thought that there is quite enough hot air produced in the Palace of Westminster already.

A far better use for the £20 million would be to write a new law requiring every new building in the country to have thermal solar panels installed and provide a £20 million fund for house buyers to top up a mortgage (for those who needed it) to pay the additional costs of the solar panels on the new build. These green loans could be interest free and £20 million a year would more than cover what is needed for interest free loans for solar panels on new build. The carbon dioxide savings would be at least 37,500 tonnes a year, which is about 37 times more than the estimated the carbon dioxide savings  for the Palace of Westminster’s grandiose scheme.